Mitt Romney’s strong win last night, scoring 39% overall and 16% more than the second place finisher, Ron Paul, naturally involved winning many different groups. According to CBS News’ exit poll, Mr. Romney either won outright or placed a very close second to Mr. Paul across most demographic and ideological categories. The data also reveals that he performed strongest among those describing their views as “somewhat conservative” and the very rich.
Indeed, Mr. Romney, who’s very wealthy himself, won more than half of those with families making more than $200,000 a year, one of his highest percentages in the entire exit poll. Among those making $50,000 or less, Mr. Romney only tied Mr. Paul, each earning less than a third of that financially modest vote.
Ideologically, Mr. Romney performed strongest among those describing themselves as “somewhat conservative,” seeing his still-substantial support dip with voters who viewed themselves as either “moderate” or “very conservative.” Jon Huntsman, who finished third and heavily campaigned in the state, did well with moderate voters while Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, who finished in fourth and fifth place respectively, overperformed with the more conservative ones.
The exit poll also suggests that Mr. Romney’s win seems to be almost completely founded on one campaign message: electability. When asked to name which one issue was most important in deciding how they voted, more respondents selected “Can defeat Barack Obama” than anything else. More than 62% of this group supported Mr. Romney.
The next Republican presidential contest will be South Carolina on January 21, where at least one candidate, Rick Perry, appears to be making his last stand. Mr. Perry received less than 1% of the vote in New Hampshire last night.